Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Misadventures of Bill and Nick

Well what do you know, working at Home Depot I have found myself a brother of another mother of a different color, my buddy Nick.  It didn't take us very long to hit it off with conversation, and it has been nonstop ever since.

It took me a while to understand his lingo, since he is a transplant from Indiana.  He kept referring to "up in the PJ's", and I asked "what's PJ's?"  He fired back, "you know!  The Projects!  Housing man!"  Up north all us poor black folk live in PJ's like poor white people down here live in the TP's!"  I went, huh?  He said, "dude, like trailer parks!"

I had to pick him up for a road trip to Vicksburg one week.  Nick said he "stays" with his mom and step dad in south Jackson.  After picking him up, I made a quick stop at one of the Arab gas stations.  Four of these places had prices that were 20 cents apart so I picked the cheapest.  Ran my card, but the keypad didn't work to verify the zip code.  Nick says "man! Don't you know that down in my hood everybody goes inside and pays $20 cash for their gas!"  I said, yeah, and another $20 for ice down beer!"

Nick had his coffee cup with him that goes where ever he goes.  I asked him if he wanted to get a refill inside the station?  He fired off "black folk don't pay for coffee!  We get free refills in places like the HD employee breakroom!"

While at work, Nick sat down the wrong way and cracked his phone.  "Damn!  I hate it when this happens!   These damn Obama phones!"  Next day he had another one.  We compared rate plans, his is very similar to mine, except he is paying $30 a month vs my $100!

While on the job, I found a deal on a battery powered sawsall.  Nick says" white people pay full price for tools at HD and Lowes.  We get the same thing but cheaper at the pawn shop!  Nick was with me when I was paying for the saw.  He commented "wow!  You're the first white dude I've met that didn't pay for the extended warranty!

One day we took a lunch break and we ended up at McAllister's,  he had never been.  He looks at the menu board and says "what am I supposed to order?"  I suggested the club sandwich.  When seeing the prices, Nick commented "you know at Burger King you can get 4 for $5!"  His introduction to their sweet tea was hilarious!   He noticed that I paid for our food with my credit card.  He stated the only card he had was his EBT, you know grocery money!"

Our first day working together, I kept hearing strange voices coming out of him.  I finally figured out that he had his Bluetooth headset on, and he was singing along to his tunes.  It was a whole lotta Rap that I commented sounded like crap.  Nick fired back "what!?  Do you expect me to work to Earth Wind and Fire?"

Each day with Nick is a whole new adventure.  I can't wait to see what our next one brings!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

When in NOLA

There are lots of things to do and see in this fine city called NOLA and here are a few tips to help you enjoy your stay:

1.  If you are travelling by car, park it.  You can buy a three day, or single day bus pass for a little of nothing and enjoy touring the city on all the street cars and buses.

2.  If you find yourself tiring, hail one of the bicycle taxis to get you to your next stop in the Quarter.  It's a life saver getting from Jackson Square to Canal or Bourbon Street.

3.  If you go to Cafe Du Monde and find a long wait line, enter from the restaurent.  It's kinda like the back door to the large covered patio.

4.  I haven't seen this one in a long time, til last night. If you are wearing nice.leather shoes, keep walking when approached by a local saying "I know where you got them shoes!"  It's a pickup line for a tip for him to "polish them shoes"!

5.  When on Bourbon Street, there is no need to go inside the peep shows.  The characters will eventually come outside the door, flashing their wares, and trust me, what you see at the door is more better than what's inside.  And you'll swear the female impersonators look better than anythang you have back home!

6.  When Making reservations at a restaurant  for New Years Eve, keep the dining party small, and limit it to one table.  Chances are some of your dining party will be "no shows" and you will get hit with a late cancellation fee on your credit card that you used for the reservation for any table not occupied.

7.  When hitting the clubs on Bourbon, know what you are drinking.  Some of these "cool drinks" are loaded up with everclear, and your head will be spinning in no time.  Never leave a drink at the table unoccupied.  Somebody might drop a rape date poll in it while you have gone to the restroom!

8.  When going to the Superdome, arrive a bit early and see if the public parking lots are open.  We got lucky at the Sugar Bowl and ended up on the upper deck of lot 5, only thirty yards from our entry gate!

9.  It's amazing what a woman will do for some plastic beads, when she has had a wee too much to drink.  It's too funny.

10.  There are signs advertising "Big Ass Beers".  Who wants to drink a beer that comes in a container larger than 16 ounces.  It's usually some Bubba that has bought it, and that's their date for the night!

11.  If you are staying in a hotel outside the city and take a taxi into downtown, remember that most of the cabs in the city only work the local streets.  Before exiting your cab, get the cab company's number so that you can call for the return trip to your hotel.  This will save you lots of walking and hailing cabs that don't leave the city limits.

12.  Good idea to have a backup external battery for when your cell phone finally dies.  If you are going to taxi by using Uber, everything is transacted by smart phone.  Dead battery means no Uber ride back to the hotel!

There are lots more.  These will get you started on a fun, safe stay in NOLA!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Street Car named Desire

We are down here in NOLA for the Sugar Bowl, but that's only one event.

You can't come this far and not go to Acme Oyster House.  We like the location out by Lakeside Mall.  The food is always good and the service comes with an accent that can't be beat.  The best part of eating their chargrilled oysters is dipping the French bread into the drippings!

The ride into town took us past "Mother's"  which had a line out the door a block long.  Been there, done that.  On to the Quarter!  Parked near the Westin, total for the day, $40, not bad considering the time and place.

Had a ball handing our my red and blue beads to people wearing the right colors.  Even swapped bead colors with a couple of OSU fans, all for the love of the game!  The guy caught a "Beat OSU" button and said "here!  It will look better on you!"

The Sugar Bowl Parade had the feel of Mardi Gras!   Beads and stuff flying all over the place.  Both fan bases were treated to school fight songs by their bands.  Our favorites were the local high school bands that added their own style to their march!

With dinner reservations for 6:00 it was time to roll.  We worked our way toward Canal to make a call to Uber.  Traffic stalled and I was able to hail down a taxi.  Best $20 taxi ride ever!

The restaurant was Carrollton Market,  at the end of the St. CHARLES Street car line.  The food was out of this world!  We had such a good time interacting with the waitstaff that the general manager waived the late cancellation fee on our second table.  The meringue on the lemon ice box pie tasted like divinity!  Everything was fresh and made from scratch.  Highly recommend it.

The owners wife is from Leland, and Julie McGregor's daughter designed the signage.  The owners aunt, Mary Frances Hammond has been on me for several years to try them and they did not disappoint.

We took the St. Charles Street car back to Canal
Street.  Had a blast talking restaurants with the driver and making suggestions of things for a couple from Iowa to do.  Several lady passengers were dressed for a "twenties" party.  I almost joined them!

Our walk back thru the Quarter took us down Bourbon Street,  and low and behold we run into our Grove buddy Kyle Phipps and his girlfriend.  Then my cousin Barbara Ann Beckham spotted us.  We swore to tell her dad that we spotted her inside St. Louis Cathedral lighting a candle and doing a confessional!

Feet began to fail us so we opted for a bicycle taxi.  Lord!  I thought we had done stripped his gears when he tried to crank it up!

We ended the night at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets.  Met a new friend at the next table, from Brandon, works for Atmos Energy and knows my brother Jim.  Small world.

Time to recharge our batteries to tomorrow
  2016 is uncertain,  but 2015 has been a "Happy New Year!"

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Christmas Spirit

Once your kids have reached adulthood, the Christmas season takes on a new meaning.  The boys still have that look in their eye come gift opening time, but these days their time is divided between their devotion to us parents, and the girly side of things.

The spousal unit used to take joy in decorating for the season.  Hours were spent decorating the tree and setting out the 100+ Santas and Angels about the house.  When the boys jumped ship, she brought in our adopted daughter for the day.  Now, is just an effort to say it's done.

The attic is full of Christmas yard art, illuminated reindeer, and strings of lights.  With the boys all grown and not here much, all that stuff has just stayed put.

Working at Home Depot this time of year, you get an earful of "old time Christmas songs", so much so that you resort to wearing earplugs.

When you think about all this and begin reflecting on all this, you think, "has the holiday flame flickered out?"

But, that's when you walk into to Kroger and pass the volunteer for the Salvation Army, just singing away, wishing everyone a happy holiday season as they rush by.

The other day at Home Depot, the day was coming.to an end.  My buddy Sam, walked up with a customer in tow, asking "you got time to assemble another one?"  The lady had that look in her eye.  This high end grill was going to be a special gift for someone.  Her husband had just been released from the hospital this week and was wanting to grill, but their old one had bit the dust a few months back.  I said "sure, Merry Christmas".  The box was delivered to me, and the "will call" sticker had a note "if completed before 9, call for customer pickup".  I finished it and took it to customer service so they could call the lady for pickup.  Hope her husband enjoyed firing it up!

With no young ones in our immediate future, we do have a pretty good substitute.   On the spousal unit's side there are the Grandbaby niece and nephew that are just now figuring this Christmas thing out.  One of the nieces has her first bundle of joy.  That holiday flame has relit itself through them!  I could not resist getting a baby daddy project, a mimi me toy grill that had to be at least a three hour assembly project!

Last night, we made the road trip to Inverness to see my parents, sister, and others.  My mom has gotten a bit "chatty" in her 80+ years.  We got to here the stories of her giving chase to my Dad, how they got married, and survived on less than $200 per month.  Nobody can tell stories like these but Granny!  My Dad will be "retiring" from his current job in the next few days.  I didn't realize that the word "retirement" was in his vocabulary!

Some traditions will always be.  Cooking is what I enjoy the most.  I have a few "lady friends" that like my Christmas sugar cookies that are always calling.  This year I made 40 boxes of cheese straws for customers.  Made my first fixing of "trash" for son #1.  Last night was my first attempt  at prime rib and it did not disappoint.

Tonight we will all share in the preparation of the evening holiday meal.  Everyone has their assigned task, and are looking forward to "our time" together.

Yep, that holiday flame that I thought had died out was just down to a slow flicker.  Soon, girly friends will become "for real" family members and the circle will be complete.  Their lives will just be getting started and me and the spousal unit will get to relive it through their eyes.

The holiday spirit is alive and well.  Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree

It's that time of year again.  Some start early November with the decorating.  For others, the first days after Thanksgivivng.  Others, like is, sometime in December.

Growing up, my memories are bittersweet.   For some reason, we would make the drive from Belzoni to Yazoo City to pick up a tree that an uncle had picked out for us.  It would be standing in a bucket on the side of the house, in the shade.  Then, when we moved to Inverness, as teenagers with a driver's  license, my mom told us to drive over to Indianola to pick out a tree and bring it home to decorate.  What???  We get to pick it out?  How big?  What kind?  We were full of questions about an event that we were about to experience for the first time!

We ended up with the same scotch pine tree that our uncle always picked out.  It didn't matter, because it was our tree!  We didn't know to check out the trunk for straightness.  I don't  think any scotch pine ever had a straight trunk.  I think this one fell over a couple of times before we secured it to the wall.  Again, it didn't matter, because it was ours!

When our kids were small, we made tree buying a family event.  Our favorite was the Frasier Fur.  Needles didn't stick, good shape, and easy to decorate.  We did this every year, til the time we got it home, and the boys announced "we're done.  Off to something else!"  That tree sat in the stand, outside for quite some time, before it was brought inside, again waiting for someone to decorate it.  Eventually, it got done, but the family experience time was changed forever.

Next up was our first purchase of a prelit artificial tree.  Big one, from Callaways, during the big after Christmas sale.  We justified the cost by figuring that it would last at least ten years, and no issues with watering or needle dropping.

We had the same issues with decorating the tree, two boys with no interest.  The spousal unit had a stroke of genius, borrow our little friend Jessica for a day and "get r done"!  That worked great for a few years, but now, Jessica is all grown up and off to college.

Well, that tree served us well.  The strings of lights eventually failed.  OMG!  The time I spent pulling off the old and adding the new!  This past year, we finally went the full circle of life.  The boys and a girly friend did the decorating!  It seemed to be the appropriate send off for that tree!  Off it went to garbage dump land!

Now, a year has past, and no tree.  It's almost like my teenage years again.  Been so long, live or artificial?  Prelit or not?  Big and tall, or scaled back?  Wonder who will be decorating it this go round?    Yep!  We've come full circle around the.Ole Christmas Tree!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Major Fails This Football Season

Back home from the 2015 Egg Bowl, with a few hours rest.  I've been reflecting on the "major fails" from this season of football Saturday, and some have made swallowing last night's pill a little easier.

1.  Dear MSU defensive player number 11.  I didn't even bother to look your name up.  It's bad enough that you had all those missed tackles, but to have a little running back from TSUN bowl you over not once, but twice?  I commented that at least you were no longer in the game, then all my neighbors said "thank God!"

2.  To the man cub's girly friend that announced "oh dear, I seem to have left my student ID back at the house"  is BAD, especially when that is your ticket into the game!  Thankfully a scalper accepted $10 for an upper deck ticket!

3.  To the man cub for forgetting to bring the grill from the house, when grilled brats with onions and peppers was the "food item of the day".  God dropping all that rain on you during you return trip with grill in hand was a great explanation point!

4.  Spousal unit was a dot of red and blue in a sea of maroon last night.  She stood up to shake her red pom pom and was drowned out by the surrounding neighbor seats clanging their cowbell at her!  At one point, I had my cowbell tucked under my elbow and firmly planted on my thigh.  Turned out that red pom pom was stuck under the bell several times during the game.  Neighbor lady said "nice touch"!

5.  To all those well intended Grove beer drinkers that had a cooler crash and burn on that little bump in the road, or the ones that bought that cheap Styrofoam cooler with the faulty top, "better luck next time!"

6.  To the Ole Miss fan doing 80 mph up hwy 25 in the Blue Toyota 4 Runner with all those magnets on your car.  And you wonder why you were the one that got pulled over by MHP???

7.  One on me.  Had the truck loaded with gear and cart to haul tailgate stuff to the parking lot.  I casually set the bag with the chafing dish on top.  On the trip up HWY 25, a huge gust of wind rocks me like crazy!  I look in the mirror and see the chafing dish bag blowing out of the back, bam!  Landing in the middle of the road!  Quick uturn, pick it up before oncoming traffic arrives, open the bag, no harm, no foul.  WHEW!

8.  To the dude preparing the boiled peanuts  at MSU, Dude!  Add some spice in that pot!  Worst goobers ever!

9.  To the sound system guy in Starkvegas.   You have had two years to fix the muffled PA system when the house is at full capacity.  Time to punt and call in a backup!

10.  To the casual fan that brings bottle beer without screwtops and doesn't bring an opener, really???

11.  To the SEC and TV people that schedule those September games in the heat of the day,  kiss my a$$!  I've done it in Starkvegas once and Oxford once.  These bones are too old for this!  Will be passing these up in favor of the shade of a tailgate tent and an ice cold adult beverage of my choice!

12.  To the guy buying an ice cream cone in the student union.  The look on your face when the scoop of butter pecan fell off your cone onto the floor:  priceless!  Checkout clerk, replacement cone was a good save!

13.  Arriving at the park and ride lot at the Cochran Center 45 minutes too early, was a major fail.  But, got to walk off that huge burger from Mugshots!  Shuttle ride back had us out and on the highway in no time!

14.   As my buddy Kyle will attest, chafing dishes in weather with Temps of 40 and lower will not warm up without at least three or more burners lit under them.  Heated crockpot stored in insulated ice chests stay warm for hours!

15.  To those "fair weather fans" that are always looking for tickets, support your school, order season tickets or pony up and pay the going rate to resellers!  Sold out season ticket allotments and stadiums are a good thing!

That's a wrap for 2015.  Bowl games are right around the corner then we begin the eight plus month wait to do it all over again!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

HYDR Tailgating Crew

Being a split household can take its toll on you in the fall.  Two sets of tickets, travel in two different directions, food planning without duplication, and not mixing up you cheering!

We have two separate groups:  man cub and company in Starkvegas and the HYDR Tailgating Crew in Oxford.  Last weekend was our last gathering in Starkvegas and last night was the conclusion of "the Grove".

HYDR Tailgating Crew is quite a collective.  Members come, not every gameday, from Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Alabama, and of course Mississippi.  One weekend, We even had a group of guys join us that were from several other northern countries.  Occasionally, we get walk up guests from the opposing team looking for a cup, advise, drink, or even a meal!

We are quite a collective.  Queen Charla is the mother of all things Rebel.  The Allen Clan has pulled in members from far and wide. Brother Kyle is the king of the Weber Q, grilling quail, rabbit, boudin, green tomatoes, and lots of other things here and there.  Gina has a husband, Danny, that can somehow manage to get a hotel room when there are no rooms to be had!  We even have a collective of single, divorced women, that are a joy to clown around with!  Very few of us have anything in common, except for a love of tailgating in the land of the Grove!

Some were sorority sistas, some mutual friends from Rebel chat forums, and others  were befriended at the annual Ladies forum.  Me, I'm just a tag along spouse of 30 years that loves a party when food is involved!

We have had our spot, on the corner of University Blvd an Grove Loop for years.  The UPD tent is right in front, in the strategic location,  for educating the public on the "do's and don'ts of beer 101".  Several of these uniformed characters are kept well fed by HYDR!

The last game was special, with a victory over the corndog rivals from across the river.  But for our crew, it's not about the game.  It's  all about the tailgate by golly!    And just think, We get to do it all over again in nine months!  Hobby Lobby!